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Who doesn’t want better school food? (Well, besides these people?) If there’s one food topic that gets heads nodding, it’s that most school kids are being fed government-subsidized junk under the guise of “nutrition.” It’s why we’ve seen such a swell of activism, both grassroots and mainstream. But too often there’s a missing piece. We can’t just give kids better food. We need to teach them about food, show them where it comes from, engage them in the growing and cooking. We need to treat kids like thinking, eating beings. It’s why school gardens and farm-to-school programs work.

Those programs need manpower, though. And they need to reach more diverse communities. Enter FoodCorps, a new service organization (in the AmeriCorps style) that started taking applications this week (the deadline is April 10). Up to 80 people will be chosen for yearlong stints (starting in August) in at-risk school districts in 10 states: Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico, North Carolina and Oregon. Interested in applying? Check out FoodCorps’ FAQs and recruitment video:

FoodCorps members will source local food for school cafeterias, build school gardens, and — importantly — create food and nutrition education based on good sense and real food, not bogus, lobbyist-fueled USDA dietary guidelines. “This is more than just another food pyramid poster on the cafeteria wall,” co-organizer Cecily Upton wrote in December. “FoodCorps is a school food army, putting boots on the ground in service for healthier kids.”

Another organizer, Debra Eschmeyer, put it this way: “We want this to be the Habitat for Humanity for school meals.” (Founders also include the filmmakers behind “King Corn,” which should be required viewing for anyone who eats.)

If the promise holds, FoodCorps has the capacity to seriously raise schools’ food IQ. And who knows where FoodCorps members themselves might end up. Growing our food? Setting policy? Parenting the next generation of thinking eaters? Good stuff.

For more good school-food mojo, check out this post about a school making sustainability and ethics part of the food conversation. And this one about how exposure to soil (and, specifically, soil bacteria) makes for happy, smart kids.

 

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